Photo: Ken Hill
John Natalie entered Round 1 of the 2015 Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship series in first place after winning the inaugural Supercross race at Daytona earlier this month but is now in an all too familiar spot in the Championship standings.
Natalie and three-time defending champion Chad Wienen tangled a bit battling for second in the first race on Lap 4 resulting in Natalie crashing and allowing Joel Hetrick to pull away even further from the field for a pretty easy first win. Hetrick, who was runner-up to Wienen last year, started out hot grabbing the holeshot and never had much pressure in Moto 1. Wienen held on to second and Jeffrey Rastrelli rounded out the podium.
"The weekend could have been worse. I came out third in the first Moto and move up to second," Natalie said. "On about the fourth lap Chad Wienen decided to ram into my rear tire on the take off of a jump and I crashed hard."
Natalie suffered two dislocated ribs and a bruised forearm and shoulder but battled through the pain, finished, and returned for the second Moto.
Hetrick started Moto 2 on the same streak taking the holeshot but after Lap 1 Wienen made the pass and the two fought each other for a good four laps until Hetrick hit the dirt on a turn and fell back to ninth. This time Wienen enjoyed a comfortable lead en route to his first win of the year and the overall. Thomas Brown, third-place in 2013, took second and Rastrelli completed a third-place sweep, a career best. Brown edged out Rastrelli for second-place overall as they were tied in points but the breaker went to Brown for his better finish in Moto 2.
Natalie took fourth in Moto 2 for fifth overall and Hetrick's seventh-place finish in Moto 2 gave him fourth overall. Wienen takes the top spot in points with 67 with Hetrick in second with 61 and Natalie dropping to third with 57 points.
"I came out third again and battled with Wienen for a couple laps before the pain got the best of me. I had to settle for 4th," Natalie said. "I have been to the hospital and got my ribs put back in. I am ready to train hard and win Texas."
Riders get a month off before Round 2 on April 18 at Underground MX Park in Kemp, TX.
2015 ATV MX Round 1 Results
- Chad Wienen (2-1)
- Thomas Brown (4-2)
- Jeffrey Rastrelli (3-3)
- Joel Hetrick (1-7)
- John Natalie (7-4) - MotoSport rider
- Ronnie Higgerson (6-5)
- Nicholas Gennusa (5-8)
- Vital Cazenave (8-9)
- Josh Upperman (13-6)
- Tyler Hamrick (10-11)
2015 ATV MX Championship Standings
- Chad Wienen (67)
- Joel Hetrick (61)
- John Natalie (57) - MotoSport rider
- Thomas Brown (55)
- Nick Gennusa (45)
- Jeffrey Rastrelli (45)
- Josh Upperman (37)
- Ronnie Higgerson (37)
- Vital Cazenave (37)
- Tyler Hamrick (32)